Remove outer stalks from fennel bulbs, pull out the strings from those now at the surface of the bulb, split each bulb in two, and put, dry, along with the garlic cloves, to cook in the olive oil in a plat à sauter, large skillet, etc., designed to hold them placed side by side. Salt them, turn occasionally over a period of about ½ hour until all are browned lightly, pour in the water, bring to a boil, and cook over very low heat, tightly covered, at the suggestion of a simmer, for about 1 hour. The fennel halves should be meltingly soft while still holding their shape and the water should have reduced with the caramelized material from the pan to a rich, deep brown syrup that coats the vegetables like a light sauce. The garlic cloves will be appreciated by some in themselves, but they will have done their delicate work for all in caressing ever so slightly the fennel and its juice. Pepper.
Copyright © 1974 by Richard Olney. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.